Sub-theme 04: [SWG] Multi-level Network Research: The Relationship between Intra- and Interorganizational Networks

Tiziana Casciaro
Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, Canada
Leon A.G. Oerlemans
Tilburg University, The Netherlands
Olaf N. Rank
University of Freiburg, Germany

Call for Papers

The EGOS Standing Working Group (SWG 07) on Organizational Network Research aims to encourage micro-macro, multilevel theorizing in organizational network research. The great opportunity presented by multilevel approaches to network theories of organizations has only recently crystallized in organizational discourse. In the past few years, several analyses have underscored that, while social network theory has been applied to organizational research across levels of analyses, and network constructs naturally lend themselves to micro-macro theorizing, drawing multilevel connections in network studies of organizations has been far less frequent (Oh et al., 2006; Moliterno & Mahony, 2011; Payne et al., 2011; Phelps et al., 2012).
This gap presents organizational scholars with a still largely untapped opportunity. Theorizing about organizational networks at either the micro or the macro level obscures insights that can be garnered by integrating the two. Significant advances are possible with research on inter-organizational networks that relates micro social-psychology to the emergence of social structure at the macro level. Likewise, macro-structural processes can influence the emergence, stability and evolution of interpersonal networks within and between organizations.
The intersection between intra- and inter-organizational networks is central to the multi-level focus of the SWG as it links micro interpersonal processes and relationships to macro-level relations and processes between organizations and in organizational fields. To date, most research on organizational networks has focused either on inter-organizational or on intra-organizational collaboration and exchange. In contrast, the link between inter- and intra-organizational networks remains largely unexplored (Van Wijk et al., 2008). For instance, we still know little about how knowledge resulting from inter-organizational collaboration can be made available to individuals and groups within the firm. Likewise, we lack knowledge on how characteristics of the intra-organizational network may affect an organization’s tendency to span firm boundaries. Investigating the interplay of intra- and inter-organizational networks is highly relevant and has the potential to contribute to the literature on topics such as absorptive capacity, knowledge transfer, innovation and creativity, organizational culture, affect and cognition, or network dynamics, to name but a few.
Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The interplay between intra- and inter-organizational networks in general, its antecedents, and consequences;

  • The role of boundary-spanners for the internal dissemination of external knowledge and information and vice versa;

  • The dynamic interplay of elite interpersonal networks and inter-organizational networks;

  • Processes such as knowledge transfer, knowledge diffusion, or knowledge absorption at the intersection of intra- and inter-organizational networks;

  • The perception of inter-organizational networks and its consequences for network evolution;

  • Organizational boundaries as barriers or facilitators of resource transfer from inside the firm to the outside and vice versa.



  • Moliterno, T.P., & Mahony, D.M. (2011): “Network theory of organization: A multilevel approach.” Journal of Management, 37, 443–467.
  • Oh, H., Labianca, G., & Chung, M.-H. (2006): “A multilevel model of group social capital.” The Academy of Management Review, 31, 569–582.
  • Payne, G.T., Moore, C.B., Griffis, S.E., & Autry, C.W. (2011): “Multilevel challenges and opportunities in social capital research.” Journal of Management, 37, 491–520.
  • Phelps, C., Heidl, R., & Wadhwa, A. (2012): “Knowledge, networks, and knowledge networks: A review and research agenda.” Journal of Management, 38, 1115–1166.
  • van Wijk, R., Jansen, J.P., & Lyles, M.A. (2008): “Inter- and intra-organizational knowledge transfer: A meta-analytic review and assessment of its antecedents and consequences.” Journal of Management Studies, 45 (4), 830–853.


Tiziana Casciaro is a Professor of Organizational Behavior and the Jim Fisher Professor in Leadership Development at the Rotman School of Management of the University of Toronto, Canada. Her research explores how structural and psychological forces jointly shape behavior in organizations. Her work on organizational networks, power dynamics, change implementation, and professional networking has appeared in ‘Administrative Science Quarterly’, ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Management Science’, ‘Organization Science’, and ‘Harvard Business Review.’
Leon A.G. Oerlemans is Professor of Organizational Dynamics in the Department of Organization Studies, Tilburg University, The Netherlands. He is Head of the Department of Organization Studies and Academic Director of the Research Master in Social and Behavioral Sciences at the same university. He also is Extraordinary Professor Economics of Innovation at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. His research interests include temporary organizations, ‘green consumption’, and inter-organizational relationships and networks. His research has been published in a wide range of high-ranked journals like ‘Journal of Management’, ‘Organization Studies’, ‘Research Policy’, ‘Technovation’, and ‘Applied Energy’.
Olaf N. Rank is Professor and holds the Chair of Organization and Human Resource Management at Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, Germany. In addition, he is the Director of the Institute of Economics and Business Administration at the same university. Before joining the faculty in Freiburg, Olaf held academic positions at the University of Bern (Switzerland) and Georg-August-University Göttingen (Germany). His research focuses on the quantitative modeling of intra- and inter-organizational as well as multi-level organizational networks. Olaf has published his research in a wide range of highly recognized academic journals such as ‘Organization Science’, ‘Research Policy’, ‘Social Networks’, ‘International Journal of Entrepreneurial Venturing’, and the ‘International Journal of Entrepreneurial Venturing’.